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Self-TransformationsFoucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies$
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Cressida J. Heyes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310535.001.0001

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Somaesthetics for the Normalized Body

Somaesthetics for the Normalized Body

(p.111) 5 Somaesthetics for the Normalized Body

Cressida J. Heyes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter spells out how we might work on our embodied selves in ways that advance our freedom. To make this work, it is necessary to return to Michel Foucault's later writing, and reconstruct in its most useful form the kind of ethics he endorses as well as the underdeveloped possibilities for a normatively inflected politics of the body to which it might inspire. Specifically, this chapter argues for what Richard Shusterman has termed “somaesthetics” as strategies of resistance to normalization. Examples of dieting or cosmetic surgeries demonstrate how asketic language is superficially deployed against normalization when in fact it often reinforces it. Finally, this chapter articulates some practices of working on oneself as an embodied subject that refuse the habituated trajectories of normalization and gesture toward an art of living which greater embodies freedom.

Keywords:   somaesthetics, Michel Foucault, normalization, self, normalized body, ethics, feminism

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